Cicadaphobia

It's not exactly every 17 years!

The Truth

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It’s practically Memorial Day and they still haven’t emerged in the nation’s capital and its immediate surroundings inside the Beltway. They have started to appear as far north as Connecticut, though. Could it be that we are really being spared? If it turns out that this is the case, I’d like to thank the media for the scare that it gave me and all the entomophobes in the region. Really! The first obligation of a journalist is to the truth. They could have handled this cicada emergence a little more accurately and looked into the historical records for the District of Columbia, Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County before announcing in apocalyptic tones that the Washington, DC metro area would be infested!

Not that this is completely incorrect — parts of Fairfax County are infested right now, and so are parts of Loudoun County and most of Prince William County. All of these counties are also included in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. However, they are farther from DC than Arlington, Alexandria, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. We should have been warned from the beginning that we wouldn’t see any beasts inside the Beltway, or maybe very few (just to err on the side of caution). It’s not so hard to predict where they should emerge in droves. If they were out in 1996, then they’re expected back in 2013, unless there’s been a lot of development and construction in the area, which might have killed them. If I don’t have any beasts in my heavily wooded neighborhood where there hasn’t been much development in the past 17 years (at least not on my condo grounds and the regional park across the street) then there weren’t any even in 1996. Just saying…

Brood V will emerge in 2016 and, again, I wish the media and our local scientists would tell us which areas, if any, will be spared. According to the maps that I could find online, it looks like this brood will affect mostly the areas of Virginia and Maryland that border with West Virginia, but the local media has already reported that we will see it in the DC metro area as well! I’ve also run into some posts in a forum according to which the Bailey’s Crossroads and Alexandria areas in Northern Virginia were infested in 1999, the last time that Brood V saw the light of the day. This would place Brood V much closer to DC than Brood II actually turned out to be. I wish there were more detailed information about this already, so I can plan my life accordingly! Can anybody give me the actual truth about Brood V? If I have, indeed, escaped the plague this year, I’m not looking forward to living 2004 all over again in 2016. By 2021, when Brood X is undoubtedly due back in DC, I’ll either have moved to the West Coast (which is completely free of periodical cicadas) or I’ll leave the area for a month-long vacation (I really want to hope that I’ll have a full-time job with benefits by then!).

In other news, during the past week there’s been more media buzz around Cicadaphobia. The website has been featured in The New York Daily News, and I’m glad that the journalist mentioned the community of support that I’ve tried to create through the site, especially the social media side of it. I’ve been in touch with a few women from my area all the way up to Connecticut who share the same fear and we’ve been comforting each other. One of them wrote in an email that she was glad to have found “someone who finally understands” what she’s going through. I think it is vital that people know that they are not alone. I’ll repeat ad nauseam that a person who has an insect phobia shouldn’t be ridiculed or stigmatized. A phobia isn’t a sign of cowardice or mental illness. It’s just what it is — a phobia. Nothing less, nothing more. Maybe it’s triggered by a traumatic experience, maybe it’s just genetic, maybe we pick an external object to displace our fear of something else. There are different psychological theories about this, but one thing is certain: People who suffer from phobias aren’t crazy. Also, let’s be honest. Most humans are disgusted with bugs. Even those who are not afraid of them.

Through this website and/or the related Twitter and Facebook, I’ve also met a couple of people for whom cicadas have been a muse so to speak, inspiring a song and a novella. Being an artist and writer myself, I’m always interested in the creative process, and the extent of human imagination never ceases to amaze me, so I’ve decided to interview them. They will be the subject of a couple of upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned!

If you also have created art or literature inspired by your fear or revulsion with cicadas, or you wish to tell your cicada phobia story or give us an update of the cicada situation in your area and let us know how you’re coping, or you have overcome your phobia and want to share your experience, please drop me a line! You can either write a guest post for this blog or be interviewed, as you prefer. It is important that the voice of entomophobia continues to be heard!

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